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Gratitude and Thankfulness
Updated: Oct 18, 2022
By Dr. Bascom Ratliff
Pastor, Parker/Beagle/Fontana United Methodist Churches
I recently heard a popular televangelist expressing gratitude to God for his wealth and status as a pastor. He promised listeners that they also could be wealthy and people with status if they simply followed his prescription for Godly wealth. Additionally, for a small amount of financial support, he promised to send a CD about acquiring wealth and pray to God for our financial well-being. He made a promise that if we supported his ministry God was going to provide us with great financial rewards.
Of course, God wants us to be grateful and thankful for the many gifts that he has given us. Unfortunately, these gifts are not typically money or wealth. The gifts we get from God are those of the spirit and include things like love, joy, patience, hope, and peace. These are the more powerful and wonderful gift from God. We are grateful when a loved one recovers from illness. We are grateful when we are provided food for our table or clothing for our bodies. And yes, we also are grateful for our jobs, money, and material gifts.
God does not promise us material wealth. In fact, he warns against the “love of money being the root of all evil”. Jesus, in his discussion with a wealthy young man, told him to sell his worldly goods and follow him. The young man was unable to do so. Jesus then tells us that it is easier for a camel to walk through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to go to heaven. The basic message is that when we focus on wealth and money, we are distracted from focusing on the wonderful gifts of the Holy Spirit.
God desires that we love him first and our neighbor second. We are to use our time and material wealth in support of God’s commandment that we love others. When we use our time and resources to directly support the mission of God, we are expressing our thankfulness and gratitude in a tangible and meaningful way. God wants service. God wants love. God wants our gratitude and our thanks for the gifts and blessings that he has provided. He guarantees us eternal life. He does not guarantee us wealth. Christ bears the burden of our sins. His death and resurrection is our ticket to heaven. Heaven cannot be purchased with money.
It is so important that we recognize the great sacrifice that Christ has made for us. It is important to understand the truly wonderful gifts of God’s spirit. And it is important that each day we offer our prayers and thanks for the many blessings God has provided. I worry that all too often we take God for granted. Attending church, supporting his ministries, or caring for our neighbor, are no longer important to us. Sunday morning worship has become a chore. Supporting the church through our service and offerings has become too great a challenge and is no longer necessary. Being grateful and thankful is difficult because we have lost sight of the greatness of God’s gifts. Heaven and hell have become science-fiction fantasies that hold limited meaning for us. And, worst of all, death and disease have so overwhelmed us that we have begun to wonder whether God is real in today’s world. This apathetic and distorted mindset increasingly makes it difficult to praise and worship a loving God and offer him thanks and appreciation for his presence in our life.
The message today is simply this, God is alive and well. God loves us. God commands our love, gratitude, and thanks. He promises immense wealth in the form of love, joy, hope, and eternal life. These are the gifts of the Holy Spirit. If we believe these gifts are worthy of our time and attention, then please attend church, study God’s word, and give him thanks and praise.
If you want to hear more about God’s wonderful promise of unfailing love and enjoy a great morning of music and worship, come visit us at the Beagle, Kansas United Methodist Church on October 9, 2022. We will be worshiping at the Beagle UMC during the month of October. All services are at 10 a.m. We’ll be sure to give you a warm welcome, a hot cup of coffee, and the best seats in the house.